• Sunday, June 16, 2024
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Gbajabiamila pushes for publication of accounts

Reps urge public, private organisations to remit contributions to NSITF

Femi Gbajabiamila, leader of the House of Representatives has suggested that the national assembly should publish the accounts of the assembly to promote transparency.

Speaking in an interview, he said, “well, my own opinion has always been that, because there is so much demand for transparency, let us publish this thing on the pages of newspaper.

“Not opening it is more damaging, reason being you hear a lot of speculations, you hear a lot of figures flying, outrageous figures! I always wonder if this was true and want to know if somebody was cheating me somewhere.

“I believe if you publish your account or budget breakdown, there will be a reasonable man out there that will say ‘oh, my God we’ve been wrong all along. This is not even enough. How come they pay this as transport allowance for a man who flies to Lagos and back every week.”

According to him, “it is always good to be objective. I say this because I was one of those outside during that time of N2.5 million to renovate quarters during the first set of members that came to the National Assembly. I was one of those people that were crucifying them. But when I came in, I was shocked because that you are a lawmaker does not mean you should be sleeping on the floor. By the time you put your AC, TV, furniture, fridge, carpet and add all these things, it is way more than N2.5 million. But there we were shouting.”

On demand by the public for the total compensation of legislators to be made public, the House leader said, “Let me say this, every human being – whether you are legislator, engineer or student – the first reaction (to request to know what one earns) is psychological. It is a lot of privacy. People don’t like to disclose them for whatever reason. Whether it is because of your child, dependants or spouse, people just don’t want to disclose it no matter how little or big what you earn is.

“Let us pack that to one side. Two, people don’t differentiate between salary and allowance. There is a big difference. And that is why under most tax laws, allowance is not taxed. You don’t tax allowance because it is not yours; it is for a specific purpose. When people were comparing earnings of Nigerian and American lawmakers, they were comparing apple and orange. They are comparing an American lawmaker’s salary with Nigerian lawmaker’s salary and allowance. Even respected magazines like the Economist are saying Nigerian lawmakers are the highest paid in the world. Of course you will be the highest paid if you are comparing somebody’s salary with another person’s salary and allowance.”